Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday that Moscow did not reject negotiations on the Ukrainian war and that the peace mission proposed by African leaders could serve as a basis.
"The [African] initiative, in my opinion, can be the basis of some processes aimed at search for peace, like others, for example, the Chinese peace initiative," Putin said a day after the end of the summit in St. Petersburg on Friday.
The Russian leader said that his meeting with the African leaders lasted about two hours and that they had a long and meaningful discussion about the peace initiative.
On the question of starting peace talks, Putin emphasized that "in order for this [peace] process to begin, there needs to be agreement on both sides."
Moscow said it had launched a special operation in Ukraine to defend the pro-Russian population in the eastern Ukrainian regions of Luhansk and Donetsk "against Kiev's atrocities and also to de-Nazify its neighbor."
"There are provisions of this [African] peace initiative that are being implemented," Putin said, adding, "But there are things that are difficult or impossible to implement."
One of the points in the initiative was a ceasefire, he said, adding, "But the Ukrainian army is on the offensive; they are attacking; they are implementing a large-scale strategic offensive operation... We cannot cease fire when we are under attack."
Like African leaders, China has called for a ceasefire and dialogue and has drawn up a peace plan. It calls on both sides to reduce tensions and warns against the use of nuclear weapons.
But Ukraine has rejected the idea of talks with Russia, saying Moscow must first withdraw from Ukrainian territory currently under its control.
Moscow believes that by including Ukraine in NATO, the West wants to extend the military alliance's borders to the Russian border. This is because the West wants to force Moscow to fight against the former Soviet republics.